Submitted by Company Folders, Inc.
In the weeks since Russian forces invaded Ukraine, the owner of a US printing company has devoted much of his time and resources to keeping his employees safe and helping get aid to Ukraine. Vladimir Gendelman, founder and CEO of Company Folders, Inc., was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and immigrated to the US, where he started a printing company that specializes in presentation folders. His staff includes seven Ukrainian graphic designers, software programmers and quality assurance engineers, and he continually is working to support them and ensure they have what they need to wait out the war.
As soon as the invasion began, Gendelman reached out to a former US Army colonel to provide guidance on military tactics and potential strategic targets. They searched employee addresses to see who was close to potential areas of conflict and determine where they might go that would be safer. One employee was able to cross the border to Poland, but four were trapped by the shelling in Kharkiv. Gendelman helped guide them to western Ukraine, away from the fighting and provided salary advances so they would be able to leave their homes and get to safety. Two more employees have since managed to leave the country. Another employee was evacuated from a dangerous area near a strategic railroad bridge. And one was in Mykolaiv caring for his elderly parents and chose to stay there.
In 2014, the Company Folders team was based in Donetsk during the Russian separatist uprising there. Gendelman knew from experience that anything could change quickly in a conflict zone. To make sure he could continue to communicate with his employees, and they could stay in touch with each other, they created channels on Slack, Skype, Telegram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. He assured them all that, regardless of whether they were able to work, they would continue to receive their salaries and their jobs were secure. He also established a Crypto business account as a backup payment mechanism in case the banking system collapsed.
For the first few weeks, the company was in emergency mode. The US staff picked up the pace and ensured client work was completed on time, but they postponed all internal and non-essential projects.
Now that each team member has found a place they can stay for the time being, work is returning to a new normal and Gendelman is turning more of his attention to Real Help for Ukraine the non-profit he helped form to send humanitarian aid to the over 14 million Ukrainian refugees who have fled their homes to escape the conflict. Working with an international network of entrepreneurs, Gendelman is collecting medical supplies, and raising funds to support efforts to provide shelter, food, and other necessities to those displaced by the war.
Learn more about Real Help for Ukraine by visiting realhelpforukraine.org.